Notes: Kiermaier to IL; Mother's Day salute

May 9th, 2021

was in obvious and immediate pain after jamming his left hand into Matt Chapman’s left knee while trying to steal second base in the second inning of the Rays’ 6-3 loss to the A’s on Saturday. He immediately rolled around on the infield dirt, holding his left arm, before walking off the field with a member of the training staff.

Kiermaier said his sprained left wrist didn’t feel any better as the night progressed, and his condition hadn’t improved any when he woke up Sunday morning. So the Rays made the decision to place the center fielder on the 10-day injured list before Sunday’s series finale against the A’s in Oakland. How long Kiermaier will remain sidelined is still to be determined.

“It hurt right when the initial play happened yesterday, and even after the game getting to the hotel, it was tightening up, stiffening up, just feeling not so great,” Kiermaier said. “And then waking up, same thing -- swelling and a lot of pain, a lot of stiffness in there. Wasn't expecting it to feel as painful as it does today. But there was a lot of impact during the play. Yeah, it doesn't feel great.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Kiermaier will be shut down and will miss “some time,” but the team won’t gain a clearer understanding of his projected recovery timetable until the swelling in his wrist subsides. X-rays performed on Kiermaier’s wrist on Saturday were negative, but he’s expected to undergo more imaging when the team returns home on Monday.

“It’s hard to tell right now. I've already had these conversations way too many times in years past, so I try not to self-diagnose myself for how long it can take,” Kiermaier said. “I have no clue as of right now. I would love for it to be on the shorter side of it, but this left hand in particular has been through a lot.”

Kiermaier had surgery on his left hand in May 2016 after sustaining two metacarpal fractures on a diving attempt in center field. The three-time Gold Glove Award winner, hitting .217/.299/.290 in 23 games this season, missed 11 games last month due to a strained left quad and again expressed his frustration Sunday about being sidelined by another injury.

“I'm going to do everything I can to get back on the field as soon as possible and try to help the team win,” he said. “I like to feel sorry for myself for a short amount, but I'll get over it, accept it and once again do what I have to do to get back on the field with my teammates. That's what I want. That's what I'm going to work for. And that's what I'm going to do.”

The Rays called up reliever Louis Head on Sunday to fill Kiermaier's roster spot, giving them some short-term depth in the bullpen. They could recalibrate their roster after Monday’s off-day, potentially adding another position player to the mix while Kiermaier is out.

In the meantime, expect to see more of Brett Phillips in the outfield along with Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows and Manuel Margot. Phillips entered Sunday hitting .235/.344/.373 with a home run and four steals in 24 games this year, and Cash recently noted that he seems to be gaining confidence the more he plays.

“I know KK is not going to be out for long, and he'll be back out there when he is,” Phillips said. “So for myself and this team, they're going to have to ask me to step up and continue to do what I've been doing -- getting on base and helping this team win any way I can.”

Injury updates
• After going 2-for-4 with a double and two walks in Triple-A Durham’s 15-3 win over Memphis on Saturday night, Ji-Man Choi (right knee) was back in the Bulls’ lineup as the starting first baseman on Sunday. Choi has played in five games during his Minor League rehab assignment. With Kiermaier down and the Rays a position player short, it’s at least possible that Choi could return for the Yankees series that begins Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

“At the plate, he looks pretty timed-up. They have faced a bunch of lefties that he's played against, and for good reason,” Cash said. “We just need to get him reps. But he has had good at-bats. He looks very much like himself, so that was encouraging to hear.”

• Cash said the Rays anticipate that reliever Diego Castillo (right groin tightness) will be ready to return from the 10-day IL the first day he’s eligible, which is Friday.

• Right-hander Michael Wacha, who’s on the 10-day IL with right hamstring tightness, is scheduled to throw a light bullpen session on Tuesday. The Rays will likely learn more about his progress based on how he feels after that session. Wacha has been able to play catch while sidelined, but the real test will be running and fielding his position.

Rays celebrate Honorary Bat Girl
The Rays hosted Jamie Ferrario, their 2021 Honorary Bat Girl, last weekend at Tropicana Field and recognized her via social media on Mother’s Day.

Ferrario, a Tampa Bay area native who’s been teaching for nearly 20 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35 and went through eight surgeries. She recently celebrated being cancer-free for five years. Ferrario credited her supportive family, including husband Mike and daughter Lucy, as well as friends and coworkers, for helping her get through the hard times. She also encourages women to learn from her story, hoping they’ll trust their instincts and speak up if something feels wrong.

“Had I not,” Ferrario wrote, “I may be telling a very different story.”